Barry Werner – The Anti-Israel Left
- Before WWII, Leftists were Socialists or Communists. The High Church was Communism. The realists (relatively speaking) were Socialists.
- During WWII, and even before WWII in Spain, Leftists were anti-Fascists.
- After WWII the Fascists were gone and the Leftists needed to reestablish an identity that would unite them so they returned to Socialism and Communism.
- When Stalin was exposed as an immoral monster, the Leftist world scrambled for a new focus to unite them and they chose anti-colonialism and anti-racism.
- After the Viet Nam War, the Leftists added anti-militarism to their agenda. That’s where we are today.
At first, Israel was somewhat kosher to the Leftists because Israeli politics was dominated by Socialists; the world-famous kibbutzim were highly successful Communist communes, perhaps the only successful adaptation of Communism in the world; and the USSR (Stalin) decided to try to befriend Israel in an attempt to make it a Socialist base from which to oppose the Capitalist West. But Zionism itself had been considered tref (non-kosher) because it was a nationalism movement, not a universalism movement. The anger over Zionism’s nationalist perversion of Socialism, along with deeply rooted anti-Semitism never really went away.
Jewish anti-Zionism was another element that got mixed into Leftist thinking. Leftist anti-Zionist Jews believed the existential security of the Jews depended on their successful assimilation into the Western world. They believed that there was inevitable progress to history and that Socialism would eventually overcome racism and anti-Semitism. They correctly understood Zionism to be essentially a rejection of the possibility of successful assimilation (at least for the foreseeable future), and that there is no historical necessity for Socialism to eventually overcome racism and anti-Semitism. The Zionists’ rejection of the possibility of assimilation was based on the history of a thousand years of anti-Semitism in Europe and recent pogroms in Eastern Europe. Their belief was reinforced by the Dreyfus Affair and confirmed by the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism persisted in the USSR, especially in Stalin personally, Stalin’s anti-Semitic purges were well known. Zionists believed that anti-Semitism is a reality that does not seem to be going away anytime soon.
The conflict between Leftist Jewish anti-Zionists and Zionists is bitter and the false accusations invented by each side (each side explains why it is that other side disagrees with them by accusing the other side of being fundamentally evil, using ideas extracted from their own particular value system) fuels non-Jewish Leftist anti-Zionism. Today, the most visible incarnation of Jewish anti-Zionism is JStreet.
(There were also religious anti-Zionists who believed that since Israel was established by Socialists and Communists with very little involvement by religious people, Israel could not possibly bring God’s promised redemption of the Jews, rather Zionism was a false attempt at redemption. Today, we have the phenomenon of religious Zionists. But since neither the religious Zionists nor the religious anti-Zionists are Leftists, their opinions don’t influence the world-wide Leftist movement.)
The Leftists proudly identify themselves as anti-colonialists, anti-racists, and anti-militarists. So, in order to gain their sympathy, the Arabs told them that the Jews of Israel were colonialists, racists, and military expansionists. Even though the accusations were all false, the Leftists ate it up like candy. They now had a cause they could unite against, Israel (and secretly, the Jews – anti-Semitism is not dead). It doesn’t matter that the concept of a colonialist entity does not at all apply to the history of Israel, that the accusation of racism is ridiculous, and that Israel’s wars were defensive. It doesn’t matter that the Arabs are nationalists, fascists, racists against non-Arabs, religious fanatics against non-Muslims, and forever waging wars against each and everyone else.
The Leftists are deluded, they see a delusion, not reality; they irrationally made their unifying raison d’être the support for the poor down-trodden Arabs (who are Christ-like because their suffering was caused by Jews) and the rejection of Zionism as racism. Facts have to be interpreted to agree with their prejudice, but that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for them. What bothers me deeply is that since Leftists pride themselves on being erudite, it must be that they willfully choose to delude themselves.
Barry Werner blogs on Israel Seen.
I was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, NY and attended an Orthodox yeshiva, but I am a secular Jew today and still have a high regard for Judaism. I enjoy learning about Judaism, Jewish history and history in general.
In yeshiva I learned what it is like to be religious and how to be religious without being a fanatic. I recognize the power and importance of religion in people’s lives and the need to restrain religious fanaticism.
I was born in 1944, when the Nazi Holocaust was in full operation. I grew up when the world was just beginning to comprehend what had happened. When I read about the willing participants to the Holocaust from other European countries, I realized that the Holocaust was not an aberration restricted to Germans, but it represents the depravity that humanity in general is capable of.
I wanted to understand the world as science understands it (which is a rather religious thing to do) so I earned a PhD in Physics at Brandeis University. My PhD thesis was in Astrophysics and my professional career was in Medical Physics. For many years I did research in the fundamentals of Medical Physics and taught Medical Physics in universities.
I made aliyah in 2009.
I am very interested in the Arab/Israeli conflict and especially in the phenomenon of anti-Zionism. I enjoy discussing Israel with left-wingers, right-wingers, Arabs, Europeans, and anyone who is interested in the Arab/Israeli conflict.